02-07-10, 01:36 AM #1
On Theoretical Mathematical Models and Scientific Methodology
Please note that I understand that the following observations will not win me any popularity contests. But I feel that an open-minded discussion about the methods, and attitudes of science is necessary to keep scientific inquiry 'honest'. This is not meant to be argumentative, but rather should be taken as an opportunity to re-evaluate certain aspects of methodology, and revisit such antiquated terms as 'common sense', and 'deductive reasoning'.
I will admit to a certain bias, but I try very hard to keep my observations objective. One of the real problems with 'science' is that it has become so specialized that the typical scientist is required to completely immerse himself/herself in training that lasts many years. They simply don't have the time, or energy to keep abreast of current discoveries outside of their specific line that may relate to their field. From my personal experiences with scientists, I can state that the vast majority I have communicated with are typically several years behind the curve, if they are even aware there IS a curve.
There is a decided need for a 'clearing house' of current knowledge that can correlate the latest in experimental research, and observations. A group of retired scientists, or grad students working on their doctorates could volunteer their time to sift through papers submitted for peer-review, and send automated 5 minute drills at the end of each week, geared toward the specific field of any scientists signed up for the service.
I think this would be of great benefit to science, and the world at large.
That said ....
I am not a mathematician. I am not a physicist.
I am an OBSERVER with ( it would seem ) sufficient wattage between my ears to make rational, logical ( in most cases ) sense of my observations.
The following saying could not be more germane to the current state of science.
"Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it."
I have read so many threads here, and it is astonishing how many 'experts' speak in 'absolutes'. NEVER. EVER. WILL ALWAYS.
The lessons of the past are so quickly forgotten. It seems they just can't learn from the mistakes of those who preceded them in the quest for answers to the questions of the universe.
These issues that the experts expound upon so authoritatively ... the structure, form, and functions of our universe are FAR from 'settled'.
One hundred years ago, we had good theoretical mathematical models of the universe.
However, the Universe didn't cooperate. Observations just didn't agree with the models.
So we ( eventually ) came up with NEW mathematical models. And for a few decades everything was 'cool'.
But then our observations, using better tools, began to contradict those models, too.
So we grudgingly created NEW mathematical models to try to agree with the observations.
Yet at each point in this cosmological history there were those who 'held fast' to the old thinking. History is littered with nameless ... and not so nameless scientists who ended up on the wrong side of the fence.
50 years ago ... it was the 'steady-state' universe. Famous scientists ... mainstream scientists went down in history as 'losers'.
At each new plateau, 'mainstream' scoffed at, and/or ignored evidence that contradicted their beliefs, or the theoretical mathematical models.
And at each point, they said ... "Ok. Well we may have been wrong in the past, but we are ( more ) RIGHT this time. And anyone who disagrees is a crank. Or a fool. They obviously don't know what they are talking about!"
Well, many of you may shudder at the thought, but the 'ever-expanding, heat-death' universe may also soon go down in history as another "Oooops!" There are more and more scientists who are finding reasons to question this 'accepted' assumption.
We are finding that the observations just in the last 5 years are casting serious doubt on the theoretical mathematical models once again. As I mentioned to someone else today ... If there is corroborating observational evidence to contradict current mathematical models, it's time to reassess the math. Not your eyes. ( Note the word ... corroborating )
Some facts about our universe ARE immutable. But there are a whole lot of 'assumptions' made here that have little backing from observational evidence.
Such as the validity of string theories. Or Hawking radiation.
If you want to repeat the mistakes of the 'losers' of the past, that's your business.
But I think now, more than ever, science needs to keep an open mind, rather than assume these issues are 'settled'.
I hope I have made my point clearly enough.
I look forward to any comments any of you may have. I trust you will not consider this an opportunity to vilify, demean, or discredit the observer.
Last edited by pywakit; 02-07-10 at 12:05 PM.
02-07-10, 03:41 AM #2
Perhaps I can better illustrate science's biggest problem with an analogy. By definition, scientists are ... well ... smart.
And nothing galls a scientist more than for some dimwitted outsider to come bustering in trying to tell the scientists how to run their show.
Yet the same thing happens in nearly every other field of human endeavor. Outside consultants are paid big money by companies to come in and assess the situation, and suggest possible improvements.
The managers hate this, because clearly they are in the thick of it, and without doubt have vastly superior knowledge of the particular functions, and processes of the company. Yet if the method was non-productive, there would be no outside consultants.
Wait! you say. Those consultants are experts. Not necessarily. There is little likelihood the 'expert' knows every aspect of a given company. What they are expert at is observation. They have a knack ( the successful ones ) of spending a day, a week, or a month observing, and finding where the deficiencies ( if any ) are.
And so it should be with science.
What scientists also don't seem to realize, is that they don't 'own' science. It belongs to humanity. The scientists are the 'managers'. And though it may be distasteful, humanity has a right to weigh in on, and check up on, how things are going.
An interesting contradiction ( or even hypocrisy ) is further illustrated by the use of mathematical theory in laying the groundwork for all scientific discoveries. 50 years ago ( I was 7 ) mainstream science maintained that it was mathematically 'possible' that our star was the only one in the visible/local universe that had satellites.
Out of a minimum of quadrillions of stars. Of course, 50 years ago was a time when religious beliefs were still very influential, in our country, and around the world. The very idea that there could be other planets outside our solar system was considered heresy in many religions. So this stance by the scientists was 'comforting' to the masses, allowing them to hold tight to their cherished beliefs. And it didn't hurt in the funding department, either.
I was just talking to a scientist the other day, and he insisted that the stance taken by scientists of the day was reasonable then, and is still reasonable today. The math was 'clear'. It WAS a possibility.
The problem was, they were ignoring a mountain of evidence already accumulated from studies of the behaviors of photons. We knew that all those other stars shared the same, if not nearly the same chemical composition.
So there really was no basis to make the claim that it was 'possible' our star was the only one in the universe with planets. Yet they did.
The contradiction? They had/have no problem with quadrillions to one odds against our star being unique, yet it was, and is, inconceivable to them that an outsider may have a greater overall awareness in a given field than they do. Say cosmology, for example.
Even if that outsider can prove to the satisfaction of any objective observer that they DO have a very good understanding of the subject. I would think that the mathematical odds of such a person, or persons existing today would be way likelier than our star being the only one in the universe with planets.
Obviously, this contradictory position the scientists have taken is not rational, or logical. Science needs outsider input. Whether they know it or not. Scientific methodology is a tool. A very good tool. But not a perfect one, and it could definitely use some improvements.
One does not have to be a rocket scientist to see the logic in this. If science is going to police itself, then it has little chance of evolving, and improving it's methods.
It's past time to 'hire' an outside consultant.
Last edited by pywakit; 02-07-10 at 11:55 AM.
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